The Path of Personal Mastery
Week Five reading
Deepening Trust and Divine Connection
This week’s reading is a little different in that it has two distinct parts:
My mini-lecture on the ideas that undergird this week’s class, and some passages from the Guides on how we’re never alone.
MINI-LECTURE: Deepening Trust and Divine Connection
These are just some thoughts I collected as I prepared for this week’s class. Please take or leave them as you see fit! (:
THE ROLE OF FAITH
Being open to faith, connection, or “ordinary magic”, to some degree, is a decision to open the door of the heart and/or the mind.
On one level, we need a working theory, a theodicy, to retain a sense of faith in a difficult world. (“Theodicy” = an attempt to explain why God allows suffering or evil, which then gives us the ability to trust in the benevolence of the Universe.) We need a way to believe in the orderliness, meaning, and underlying goodness of our lives, despite the inevitable struggles, loss, and heartbreak. We need a spirituality that makes room for the complexity of our lives.
One way we can envision faith or trust is as a spectrum, with a lack of faith on one side, “magical thinking” or immature spirituality on the other, and what I think of as “mature spirituality” in the middle.
lack of faith ————————mature spirituality———————-magical thinking
skeptical, disillusioned open, curious, resilient naïve, fragile
A lack of faith tends to lead us to view life through a harsh and skeptical lens, to miss what meaning or magic may exist, and may lead us to feel discouraged, depressed, anxious, or alone on an existential level.
On the other side of the spectrum, magical thinking or immature spirituality has a certain fragility or brittleness to it. It can lead to judging others, and disillusionment when we realize that we can’t prevent bad things from happening, that we are not necessarily “rewarded” for being “good,” that things are not as simple as we imagined, or that we are more imperfect than we thought.
I’m going to go into the idea of magical thinking in a little depth here, because when we start talking about “signs” and synchronicities, like we do tonight, as well as pulling cards and other divination tools, I think it’s important to make a distinction about the appropriate mentality behind such spiritual play.
Magical thinking says that there are exact “answers” or solutions out there and we can know them if we just do or think the right thing or ask the right person. It locates the knowing outside of ourselves and can become like a frustrating spiritual treasure hunt. A more mature spirituality is more process-oriented and patient. With a more relaxed attitude, we can “play” with spiritual tools or consult others while also staying open and curious. The key is not to become rigid or locating the knowing outside of ourselves.
The problematic underlying idea in magical thinking is that if we just believe, do, say, or think the right things, our life will unfold the way we think it “should.” This way of thinking is exemplified by oversimplification and too-easy ideas of “reward” and deservingness. It lends itself to narratives which don’t tend to match how life actually works. One example would be blind adherence to ideas like “the law of attraction,” from the book The Secret, in which the idea that “we create our own reality” becomes a rigid rule and a way to judge or analyze ourselves or others for circumstances in our lives.
I do think there is some truth to the “law of attraction” on an energetic level, but that it is dangerous when oversimplified, e.g. when people claim that someone “caused” their own illness because of “wrong thoughts”. For a profound look at this phenomenon and the question of mature/immature spirituality, check out the incredible memoir Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber, by American philosopher Ken Wilber.
On the other hand, as I said in class, a mature spirituality involves a both/and mentality, an attitude of curiosity, an openness to mystery and paradox, a willingness not to know everything, and an ability to be surprised.
As Hamlet said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Ironically, when we have that openness, we tend to attract, notice, and appreciate that underlying order and magic in life, including synchronistic and “numinous” events and the hidden meaning of struggles. So to an extent, having faith or trust can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
One of this week’s questions is: What beliefs, attitudes, practices, or tools can help to strengthen our sense of trust and connection?
In thinking about the first part of the question—what beliefs or attitudes can help us trust and feel connected—I went through my materials from the Guides to find appropriate passages to share with you. As I did that, I realized that there was no one passage or quote big enough to answer the question. I realized that my own beliefs and inner knowings have been gleaned over many years of intuitive work and can’t be summed up easily in a quote. It seemed only right for me to share those underlying beliefs with you, both so that you would know where I was coming from and so that you can reflect on your own beliefs and how they do or don’t support you in trusting and feeling connected to your Higher Self/the Universe/life/the Divine.
Here are mine, based in large part on my work with the Guides:
- We are accompanied, appreciated, loved, helped and guided at all times, whether we are aware of it or not. There is always invisible help.
- The evidence is subtle but it’s there, and it’s possible to become more and more sensitive to and aware of that reality if we pay attention.
- Energy is real and something we can work with.
- Everything and everyone in our lives has meaning and is an opportunity for us to grow. Everything has a purpose or “happens for a reason.”* Thus everything has intrinsic value, even if we don’t “like” it. (*A“reason” doesn’t imply reward/punishment or even cause/effect, but rather, a role to play in our journey and soul’s development.)
- There is no such thing as failure or a mistake. Instead, it’s a learning opportunity or “course correction.” (The idea of the “red light” from last week.)
- Each individual life, each path, each person’s journey of growth is deeply important and significant on a soul level and a Universal level, no matter how “ordinary” or “small” or mundane it seems.
- We are always being led.
- We can trust our hearts and our feelings (as long as we continue to move through them, rather than getting stuck indefinitely).
- We can ask for help and we will receive it, though we may not always be exactly aware of how or when it arrives.
- There is “magic” in the world, and it comes in many forms. The more we acknowledge it, the more of it we perceive, and the more “in the flow” we feel.
- We are not in control of everything that happens to us, but we can work with our thoughts, perceptions and energy to affect our inner and outer experiences. (That’s how I understand “The law of attraction.”) For example, practicing gratitude leads to more in our lives to be grateful for.
- Death is not the end; we are all eternal; this level of reality is not the same as ultimate Reality; there is nothing to fear (although we still sometimes do).
- Virtually all cultures throughout history have believed in non-ordinary reality: core Shamanism, magic, fairies, angels, animal helpers, etc. The “rational,” scientific, 5 senses view is more of an aberration. We are in “good company” in terms of seeing the world as magical and meaningful. Also, it is much more fun and interesting!
Some passages from the Guides
You are never alone. And once you fully inhabit yourself, you will feel less alone than ever in your life.
Affirm it: “I am turning over care of the mundane aspects of my life to God. I trust that God will show me what to do and how to do it in every moment, in every way. I open myself to God. I surrender my need to have control. I accept that I—my ego—is not longer in control.”
In reality, it would be a great freedom, a tremendous freedom, to let go of [your habit of] control. You are not the only one who knows what to do. Trust others. Trust God. Trust life. You are safe.
Talk to us. Do not imagine you are alone, not for one minute. Talk to us every minute of every day. We are here. We are listening. We love you. We serve you. Let us help. That is our joy.
It pains us when you believe that you are alone. You are not! We are right here! Call on us! Talk to us! Be with us. Enter our midst. We welcome you. We know your heart. We can fill you up. Come join hands with us. Let us embrace you. Let us surround you. We are your friends, even your family. Let us give you the love you long for. We are conduits to God’s love. Let us give it you, shine it onto you.
Take this opportunity to make the switch from human love to Divine love. It is yours for the taking. You only have to ask, to say Yes, to believe.
We love and honor you on every step of your human journey. We have so much respect for you, for all of you on a human path. It is not easy. Oh, no. It is brutally hard. We understand that. There is no pain like the pain of a human who feels bereft, abandoned by God, abandoned by others. It is one of the most searing kinds of pain in our Universe. For this, our hearts go out to you. They literally do.
When a bereft human calls to us in pain, we literally send our hearts, our love energy, to that person, to sustain them. Though it can be hard to penetrate the outer shell of fear, of despair.
The problem with a human who feels alone, who is convinced he or she is alone, is that it quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The loneliness forms a wall—when it insists on itself, on its true aloneness—that we cannot penetrate. Only when a person creates space for our existence can we begin to enter and do our work.
It is Divine Law. The heart of the human must open, if only a tiny crack, before we may enter. The human heart must choose to believe, or at least to be open, a tiny bit, in order to receive grace.
Trust Us. Listen. Not just any listening. Radical listening.
Have radical faith in what you hear. Not questioning it. Not embellishing it. Not needing to understand it. Listening alone is the reward. What if you didn’t know why you were doing half the things you did. What if you just did them because? Because you heard them, because you followed, without knowing why? What if you put no stock in the outcome, did not become attached to a certain result, but instead simply did “as you were told,” as you felt compelled in this way, without needing to know why? That would be radical listening in action.
Wow, that sounds risky.
No riskier than not listening, not acting. Actually much less risky than that.
Sit. Listen. Feel. Sit. Listen. Feel. Your feelings are sacred. [Emotional work] will help you open up to hear. Any time you clear the emotional field, the ability to hear improves.
What is your soul asking you to do?
What if I can’t see the way forward?
Can you see how that would be good? If you can’t see what is ahead, you can’t make up a story about it. The creative mind…wants to come in and tell a whole story about what is going to happen and why. And you become enthralled/in thrall to the story, and mistake it for our voice, for one we have created. When in fact it is YOU who has written the story. We have only provided the opportunity, the signposts, the barest outline for you to fill in. Hoping, of course, that you won’t fill it in, that you will remind flexible and fluid/pliant, ever listening, not becoming fixed or rigid, not attaching yourself too firmly to any one outcome or “story line.” Because lives are not stories. They are more than that. More wonderful, more mysterious, and from your vantage point, much messier and more unpredictable.
[After I express feelings of frustration with my situation in life:]
This is the road your soul chose for you. There are no mistakes. There are no errors. Just because you had some other reality in mind doesn’t mean something now is “wrong.” It is not wrong, it is. It is because it is, in other words; it’s meant to be. It is God’s will, it is the soul’s will or the souls’ will [when it involves another person]. Your ideas of what you wanted and what you needed were just that, ideas. Your ideas. Not our ideas or God’s ideas. They were, in effect, an invention of your own, a desire you created into a wish and then into a future you somehow believed must come to pass. Because it “should.” But as you may notice, life does not operate that way. What happens is not very often what we believe “should.” There is not always “justice,” or what we (as humans) believe justice to be. In fact, it is rarely that way. The scales do not “balance.” Life is not “fair.”
How do we come to terms with that “unfairness” without losing our sense of faith, our sense of hope? It is not easy, but it is necessary, in order to continue to grow and evolve. Too many people fall into despair and cynicism, deciding that because life is not “fair” then there is no God, no purpose, no justice or mercy. This, while perhaps understandable, is spiritually immature. To insist that life is “fair” is, in effect, to have a spiritual temper tantrum. It is saying, “It must be my way, and if it’s not going to be my way, then I am going to quit, take my toys and go home.” Life requires more of you than that. Cynicism is too easy. Giving up is too easy. They are each a form of pouting, a form of protest, a turning away from life. The spiritually mature person faces—and even embraces—life as it is. That requires a lot of grief. One can’t embrace what is without grieving what has been lost, even if that loss is just an idea.
Let yourself mourn what you imagined and do not have. This is necessary in order to let go of what is not to be and to come to a greater sense of peace with what is.
You are never alone. The trick is to know that, to feel it, to feel our presence, to feel God’s presence with you, carrying you, guiding you. That’s why meditation is so important. In it, you open yourself up to feel God’s presence, to contain God, more of God. Once you feel that, you will know on a visceral, physical and emotional level—not just theoretical—that you are not alone. That we are right here.